PEORIA, Ill. — Northern Iowa was unable to beat Southern Illinois when the Salukis visited Cedar Falls for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference softball series near the end of the regular season.
Friday was a different story.
Jaclyn Spencer was masterful in the pitching circle and Sammey Bunch provided the only runs with a two-run home run in the sixth as the Panthers knocked the second-seeded Salukis out of the MVC tournament, 2-0.
UNI (28-22) advanced to face top-seeded Drake (41-14) in Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game with an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament at stake. Drake defeated Bradley in Friday’s other semifinal, 7-0.
Spencer allowed just three singles over seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks while improving her record to 11-4.
Southern Illinois senior Brianna Jones kept the Panthers in check, too, until Bunch clobbered her 17th home run of the season with Brittney Krodinger aboard in the top of the sixth.
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UNI 2, Southern Ill. 0
Northern Iowa 000 002 0 — 2 5 0
Southern Ill. 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Spencer and Chesser. Jones and Massa. WP — Spencer (11-4). LP — Jones (23-9). 2B — Spencer (UNI). HR — Bunch (UNI).
Records: UNI 28-22, Southern Illinois 33-13.